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Computer Information Systems Degrees

CIS Students working on a project

There are many options for those with computer information systems degrees in today’s world. The Internet of Things, cloud computing and big data all shape the ways we live our lives and do business. This creates many opportunities for professionals with the right training and education. How do you get the training to take advantage of these career avenues? It’s simple: You work toward a computer information systems degree.

Computer information systems (CIS) degrees prepare you for a career that hinges on applying technology to business. You might choose to earn an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or even PhD CIS degree. This kind of education can prepare you for a rewarding career, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports professionals who work in computer and information technology occupations bring home median annual wages of more than $86,000.

What Can I Do with a Computer Information Systems Degree?

When you earn a computer information systems degree, the world becomes your oyster. From app and software development to cyber security, you can do many things with a computer information systems degree. 

Top jobs for those with a computer information systems degree can include:

  • Web developer
  • Information security analyst
  • Network and Computer System Administrator
  • Database administrator
  • Computer systems analyst
  • Computer or technical support specialist
  • Computer programmers
  • Computer network architects
  • Computer and information research scientists
  • Computer hardware engineers

Learn more about these opportunities and see how training for a computer information systems job can grow your career and enrich your life.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Degree in Computer Information Systems?

There are five main options for those seeking a CIS degree:

  1. Certification
  2. Associate’s degree
  3. Bachelor’s degree
  4. Master’s degree
  5. PhD

The amount of time you spend working toward a CIS degree depends on the path you choose.

In many cases, a CIS certificate can be completed in just a few months to up to two years. An associate’s degree generally takes about two years. A bachelor’s degree can be completed in 4 years of full-time study. A master’s degree might take 6 years from starting your bachelor’s to finishing your master’s. 

Is a CIS Degree Hard?

It’s a fact: College is hard. This includes CIS degrees.

However, many students report that a CIS degree is easier for them than obtaining a CS degree. This is likely because CIS degrees focus on practical applications of technology solutions, while CS degree courses might be more theorethical. 

Let’s delve into the different levels of CIS degrees you can earn and how you might apply the degree to your career.

Computer Information Systems Certification

If you’re looking for a fast-track to employment, you might choose to earn a computer information systems certification. Working toward a CIS certification can give you skills you can apply to many tech jobs. Certificates are available in web development, network admin, programming and more.

A CIS certificate shows that you have specialized skills in a certain area. You might earn a certificate in an area like project management, help desk support or management information systems.

In some cases, students can apply a CIS certification to a degree program. In other cases, the certification stands alone. While many CIS degree programs give you a broad overview, certifications show expertise in one particular area. Web developers, network specialists and even database analysts can all earn specific certifications within their areas of experience.

There are a number of ways you can obtain a CIS certification. You might opt for an intensive bootcamp program to become certified in a certain programming language. However, some of the most respected CIS certifications are offered through both online and on-campus through technical schools and community colleges. These certificates can be obtained within a semester or two of study.

Certificate in Computer Information Systems

CIS certifications are specialty programs. This means coursework can vary based on the specialty you choose. In most cases, certificate programs hone in on one specific skill and forgo general education and business coursework.

You might find CIS certificates in areas including:

  • Databases
  • Computer applications
  • Web development
  • Operating systems (like Windows and UNIX)
  • Programming languages like Java, Visual Basic and C++
  • Network and cyber security
  • Software engineering

In most cases, you’ll be workforce ready after earning a certificate in computer information systems. Regardless of what kind of certification you complete, you’ll have in-demand skills and abilities. You’ll likely be ready to tackle tasks like:

  • Write computer programs
  • Build information systems
  • Design and implement solutions
  • Create and build websites and plugins
  • Provide computer user support
  • Build and manage databases
  • Work on plans and proposals

This means you will be prepared to enter the business world and join the ranks of a company’s IT department.

CIS Certification Jobs

There are a number of job opportunities available to those with the right certifications. According to figures from the BLS, jobs available to those with computer information systems certificates are growing. This means more employment opportunities for those with the right training.

One job you can get with a CIS certification is a computer and technical support specialist.

According to data from the BLS, the employment of computer and technical support specialists is slated to rise by 10% by the year 2028. This is faster than other occupations. In 2018, the median annual salary for computer support specialists was nearly $63,000. This is higher than the national median average wage, which means you can earn a decent salary with just a few semesters of work with the right certification program.

Another job option for those with a CIS certification is network and computer systems administrator. According to numbers from the BLS, the outlook for this occupation show employment on the rise. The employment of network and computer specialists is slated to grow about 5% by 2028. You can also enjoy a comfortable salary in this career; network administrators made a median annual wage of just over $80,000 in 2018.

Computer Information Systems Associate Degree

An associate’s degree in computer information systems might be a good fit for you if you want to build hands-on technical skills you can apply in a business setting. 

In a CIS associate’s degree program, you’ll likely learn the ins and outs of the industry. You might focus on skills like how to develop websites, how to create and manage databases and how computer networking works. You might also learn languages like SQL, Java and Visual Basic. Many CIS associate degree programs also touch on business basics, so you’ll be ready for the workforce.

You can choose to earn a computer information systems associate degree online or at a brick and mortar school. More and more students are opting for online schools today, as the program offerings are more varied than ever. Online associate’s degree programs offer more flexibility, as students can work as time permits. These web-based programs offer the same curricula as in-person schools, but programs are often tailored toward working professionals. An online associate’s degree in computer information systems might be a good option for a certified professional who wants to advance. 

Regardless of whether you choose an on-campus or online CIS degree program, you’ll lik hi ely attend a technical college, private college, community college or state college. Each program comes with certain benefits, so it’s important to do your homework and find a program that best suits your needs.

Associate’s Degree in Computer Information Systems

When you sign up for a computer information systems associate degree program, you’re enlisting in an intense academic program. You’ll likely take a lot of math classes. Other courses will likely cover information systems analysis and design, development and administration. You’ll also likely take other computer classes, depending on your chosen focus. Business and communications classes might be part of the curriculum as well. 

Your classes will culminate in an understanding of technology and how it applies to the business world. This means you might learn how to train and instruct others on the use of certain technologies. You’ll learn to comprehend and explain the advantages of one system over another and how to roll out and implement new programs and technology.

Some students choose computer science over computer information systems. Computer information systems degree programs cover a wide variety of technology and topics, while computer science programs tend to hone in on more specific subjects, like programming or coding. 


It usually takes between 60 and 67 college credit hours to earn an associate’s degree in computer information systems. This equates to about two years of full-time study. 

The cost of an associate’s degree in computer information systems can vary. State residency is an important thing to be aware of when looking at schools and colleges. Many state schools and colleges charge higher rates per credit for out-of-state students. 

If you’re opting for an online school, this might not matter — some schools charge a flat rate for online credits regardless of location. Based on national figures from U.S. News, you can count on spending between $150 and $510 per credit hour on an online associate’s degree in computer information systems. This adds up to about $9,000 to $34,000 for the degree. You might find more affordable options by checking out community and state colleges in your area.

CIS Associate’s Degree Jobs

If you’ve got the training and the skills, you’ll get the job. Opting for an associate’s degree in computer information systems can prepare you for a variety of IT related careers. This is a very good thing, as employment figures for computer and information technology occupations are expected to rise much faster than average over the next decade. These occupations also promise comfortable wages. The right training and education can set you up for a rewarding career.

One job you can get with a CIS associate’s degree is software developer. According to numbers from the BLS, the employment of software developers is slated to rise 21% by 2028. This rise is due to an increasing demand for new softwares and programs. Software developers are paid well for their in-demand skills. The median annual income for a software developer was just over $103,000 in 2018. Not bad for someone with a two-year degree! If you work on systems software you can expect to earn more. The median annual wage for systems software developers was just over $110,000 in 2018.

Another job option for those with an associate’s degree in computer information systems is web developer. These professionals need to have both graphic design and programming skills, which can be obtained in the right associate’s degree program. Numbers from the BLS indicate that the employment of web developers is supposed to grow 13 percent between 2018 and 2028. This is much faster than other occupations. Web developers also can enjoy a comfortable income. BLS numbers show the median annual wage for web developers was nearly $70,000 in 2018.

With so many opportunities, earning an associate’s degree in CIS can be a wise move for your career. If you’re looking to advance or break into leadership, a bachelor’s degree might be the next step. Learn more about computer information systems bachelor’s degrees.

Computer Information Systems Bachelor’s Degree

While an associate’s degree offers a great foundation for a computer information systems career, a bachelor of computer information systems degree takes it even further. This course of study offers graduates the skills needed to excel in the workforce. Students leave a CIS bachelor’s program with the computing knowledge and network technology comprehension required to develop, design and support all kinds of information systems in a variety of business and organizational settings. Bachelor’s degree graduates often have the skills and leadership capabilities required to excel in CIS careers.

A CIS bachelor’s degree prepares graduates to apply evolving computer technology to meet business challeneges and support operations. This also means managerial-level decision making and finding enterprise solutions. CIS majors are taught how to analyze existing systems and configure new ways to strategically optimize their performance. 

These higher-level skills are all learned on top of a foundation of technical skills. In many cases, CIS majors also learn how to create websites, build and manage databases, and learn the ins and outs of computer networking. They also are knowledgeable about SQL, Java and Visual Basic, among other languages. Most CIS bachelor’s degree programs also have a hefty requirement of business classes, so you’ll be ready to land and thrive in the workforce.

Like with a computer information systems associate’s degree, you can choose to earn a CIS bachelor’s degree either on-campus at a brick and mortar school or online. Online programs are increasingly common. These programs offer more flexibility. They allow students to meet the demands of a full-time job and family responsibilities. In most cases, the web-based programs offer the exact same courses and curricula as an on-campus program. An online program might be a great option is you already have an A.S. in CIS and want to advance your skills and career.

Again, as with a CIS associate’s degree, many students are forced to choose between computer information systems and computer science. Both are wise options for those seeking technology careers. However, a CIS degree covers a wider variety of topics and technology and focuses on business applications. A computer information system’s bachelor’s degree might be your best option if you plan to enter the business world. In fact, a computer information systems bachelor’s degree might even be offered by your university’s school of business.


It usually takes between 120 and 140 college credit hours to get a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems. Dedicated students can do this in four years of full-time study. It might take a little longer if you are managing a career and other obligations while in school.

The cost of a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems can vary. Like with an associate’s degree, state residency is an important thing to be aware of when looking at schools and colleges. Many state schools and colleges charge higher rates per credit for out-of-state students. 

If you’re opting for an online school, this might not matter — some online programs charge a flat rate per credit hour regardless of location. Based on national figures from U.S. News, you can count on spending between $150 and $510 per credit hour on an online bachelor’s degree in computer information systems. This adds up to about $18,00 to $68,000 for the degree. You might find more affordable options by checking out a state college or state university in your area.

CIS Bachelor’s Degree Jobs

You can do a lot with a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems.  Choosing to earn this degree can prepare you for a variety of business and information technology jobs. This is a great thing for your career, as a BLS employment data shows a sharp rise new computer and information technology jobs over the next decade.

One job you are a strong candidate for with a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems is information security analyst. In today’s business world, information security threats are the real deal. Information security analysts help thwart these attacks. They protects networks, computer systems, data and more. Information security analysts work in a variety of sectors, including financial, government and more.

According to figures from the BLS, the employment of information security analysts is slated to grow much, much faster than average over the next decade. These professionals brought home median annual wages of over $98,000 in 2018 thanks to their in-demand skills.

Another job option for those with a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems is computer and information systems manager. This is a leadership position within a company or organization’s information technology department. These professionals coordinate, plan, implement and direct all of the computer-related activity within a business or organization. You’ll find computer and information systems managers in a variety of employment sectors, as each industry has unique I.T. needs.

Numbers from the BLS indicate that computer and information systems managers are paid well for their in-demand skills. Their 2018 median annual pay was over $142,000, or about $68.50 per hour. The employment of computer and information systems managers is slated to rise much faster than average, with employment growing 11% by 2028.

If you’re passionate about computer information systems and want to continue your education beyond a bachelor’s degree, you might consider earning a CIS master’s degree.

Computer Information Systems Master’s Degree

A master of science in information systems (MSIS) is a very prestigious degree. These programs are generally offered by the university’s school of business and are often integrated with information science and technology programs. A computer information systems master’s degree is best suited for those who manage the design and development of information systems. 

Master of science in information systems degrees are often considered equivalent to a master of information systems/technology degree. The difference in the two degree paths is that the information systems degree focuses more on applied solutions for business management. The MSIS degree is recognized by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Courses in an MSIS program are advanced. Core courses in the program will likely cover topics including project management, data communications, database design, systems design and systems analysis.

The length of time it takes to complete an MSIS degree varies. With full-time study, you can likely complete a master’s degree program within 1 or 2 years depending on the program.

A master’s degree in computer information systems isn’t cheap.  According to numbers from the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator database, the lowest MSIS tuition in the U.S. starts out around $11,000 per year but can go all the way up to $54,000 per year. This means the cost of a degree can seriously vary, ranging from $11,000 to $108,000.

MSIS or Computer Information Systems Master’s Degree

Like with both associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, you can complete an MSIS degree either on campus or online. Many of today’s MSIS students are busy professionals working full-time jobs, so they might opt for online programs. Web-based master’s degree programs offer more flexibility, allowing students to work as time permits. 

Online programs offer the same curriculum as brick-and-mortar schools. This means you’ll expect similar coursework no matter which option you choose. In many cases, your university offers both online and on-camus MSIS programs.

MSIS or Information System Master’s Degree Jobs

Most students seeking master’s level education in computer information systems are seeking advancement in their careers. They might already be working in a computer information systems related field and want to take on more senior or leadership positions. 

Master of science in information systems graduates are also great candidates for other jobs. One of these jobs is computer and information research scientist. These professionals are on the forefront of emerging technology and can apply their work to business and research applications. They find innovative uses for existing technologies and help develop new technologies. They also might research how humans and machines interact.

The employment of computer and information research scientists is projected to rise 16% by 2028. This is much faster than other occupations, according to the BLS. Some companies have reported trouble finding these skilled professionals to fill open positions, which means that those with the right education and interests might have better luck landing a job. Pay for these in-demand professionals matches their education and skill set. The median annual income for computer and information research scientists was over $118,000 in 2018.

Other jobs available to MSIS graduates include:

  • Network systems administrator
  • Server administrator
  • Systems manager
  • Database analyst
  • Multimedia programmer

With so many options for advanced careers, graduates of computer information systems master’s degree programs will find opportunity in a variety of sectors.

PhD in Computer Information Systems

If you’re interested in working toward a PhD in computer information systems, you’re likely interested in a career of academic research and university-level instruction. Coursework in a PhD program is highly customizable and allows you to hone in and study what truly excites you. 

A PhD in computer information systems might cover topics like:

  • Human and computer interactions
  • Online reviews
  • Social media design
  • Information systems implementation and strategy

In many cases, PhD students find opportunities to explore information systems challenges straight from the real business world. They use higher-level methods to find solutions, including surveys, archival, analytics and experiments.

It usually takes 4 or 5 years to earn a PhD in computer information systems. This might equate to 45 hours of coursework, in addition to other requirements. Classes generally build on functional knowledge of information systems and research methods. From there, students can take minor and elective courses. Additional PhD program demands might include core exams, comprehensive exams, a teaching requirement and a dissertation.

Becaused a PhD in computer information systems has so many requires and requires so much research, most programs are completed in person at a brick-and-mortar school. You’ll still find a few online options, though. Regardless of which kind of program you choose, you’ll be subject to a rigorous academic workout as a PhD student. 

Computer information systems degrees can set you up for an exciting career. Regardless of whether you’re interested in joining the ranks of the business world with applicable solutions or furthering technology through research, the right degree can get you there. Learn more about computer information systems are start planning your career path with our help.